BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Buffalo community honored the life of a transgender woman Sunday afternoon. 35-year-old Tonya Harvey was shot and killed on the city’s East Side earlier this month. The Erie County district attorney is still investigating if it was a hate crime. During a rally Sunday, Harvey’s family and friends say they want justice.
It’s right on steps of City Hall in downtown Buffalo, that the transgender community hopes to make the first step towards change. Behind each sign — a heavy heart — as dozens of people came together to bring awareness to the violence against transgender people.
“People are fearful of folks they don’t know,” said Ari, who helped organize the rally.
Family and friends say that fear lead to the loss of their loved one 35-year-old Tonya Harvey, also known as ‘Kita.’ Kita, transgender woman of color, was shot and killed on the east side earlier this month.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, Kita is the fourth transgender person killed nationally in 2018.
“This has struck home here in Buffalo. Usually it’s someplace else, in another city,” said Ari.
The transgender community say they wanted to celebrate Kita’s life. Many people didn’t want their faces shown out of fear of retaliation, but they say want their voices heard.
“We struggle with acceptance and inclusion. We struggle with being open minded and forward thinking,” said Ari.
Erie County District Attorney John Flynn is investigating if this is a hate crime.
“We’re a community right now that is in flux, there’s fear, there’s confusion about what is the next step to take,” said Ari.
It’s not clear what that next step will be, but this community says no matter what they will continue to fight for justice.
“That’s one of the messages we wanted known, of solidarity among transgender people, our allies, our friends and our family,” said Ari
DA Flynn says he’s noticed a spike in the number of homicides of transgender people nationwide. According to the Human Rights Campaign, 28 transgender people were killed across the county last year — up from 23 in 2016.
Buffalo police say no arrests in this case have been made.